OU Press Publishes Book to Make the Hebrew Bible More Accessible

03 Nov 2009


How do you make the most popular book in history even more accessible? Many people own a Bible and even start reading it, but only a small percentage ever complete the entire Bible. In a new book published by OU Press, Rabbi Jack Abramowitz, Associate Director of the Orthodox Union’s Pepa and Rabbi Joseph Karasick Department of Synagogue Services, sets out to change that by paraphrasing the Bible in plain language.

In conjunction with the OU’s “Nach Yomi” program of studying a chapter of Bible a day and its corresponding lectures on www.ouradio.org to help devotees of the program, Rabbi Abramowitz has composed brief summaries of every chapter in Nach (the Hebrew Bible, excluding the Five Books of Moses). His summaries bring the text to life, adding color and humor to sometimes obscure passages, along with frequent pop-culture references that serve to illustrate the Scriptural messages.

A collection of summaries on the books of Prophets was published earlier this year as “Nach Yomi Companion, Volume 1: Neviim – Prophets” and the completion, the books of Writings, is now being published by OU Press as “Nach Yomi Companion, Volume 2: Kesuvim – Writings.” The biblical books in this second volume include the inspiring Psalms, the enigmatic Proverbs, the misleadingly-risqué Song of Songs and many more.

The Nach Yomi program is modeled on the successful Daf Yomi program, in which participants study one page of Talmud a day until the work is completed. The OU launched Nach Yomi on November 1, 2007, and each day features an online lecture discussing the chapter. Once the section of Prophets was completed, approximately one year later, the next work, Writings began. The entire Nach will be completed on November 11, 2009 – next Wednesday.

Rabbi Abramowitz declared, “It’s extremely gratifying how well-received the OU’s Nach Yomi program has been. People really recognize the power of studying the Bible each day. Not only will this volume assist people with their Nach Yomi learning, it can be used any time to look up a difficult chapter in, say, Daniel, and to see what’s going on in plain language.”

To assist those who wish to study the Nach, the OU has produced several free resources, such as a two-year Nach Yomi study calendar and a pamphlet summarizing the authors, dates and content of the 24 books of the Bible. Presenters of the Nach Yomi webcasts on www.ouradio.org have included:

•Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, OU Executive Vice President, now Emeritus;
•Rabbi Menachem Leibtag, founder of the Tanach Study Center;
•Rabbi Chaim Brovender, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hamivtar, Michlelet Bruriah and WebYeshiva.org;
•Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom, author of Between the Lines of the Bible; and many others.

This book is the latest offering from OU Press, which earlier this year published The Seder Night: An Exalted Evening, a haggadah commentary based on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. OU Press, recently founded by the Orthodox Union, is dedicated to fulfilling the Orthodox Union’s goal of widespread availability of Torah wisdom. Sensitive to the interest from OU constituents as well as the broader community in high quality religious literature, OU Press focuses on works by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, the towering rabbinic figure of the twentieth century, and other leading Orthodox rabbis, on a variety of subjects, including Bible, Israel, ethics and communal life.

Copies of this book, which cost $20 each, are available through www.OUPress.org. Those who wish to place a bulk order (at a discounted price) can contact OU Press at OUPress@ou.org.